Celebrating Canada 150 this summer? Event tips to mitigate risk

08 June 2017

Many travel companies are using Canada’s 150th anniversary to position the nation as a top travel destination this summer. With Canada Day around the corner, now is an ideal time to map out your special events for the summer. Regardless of whether festivities are sponsored by your municipality or a third party, your municipality should be aware of the exposures associated with planning and executing special events.

The entity that has complete and unchallenged authority over the event is responsible for the insurance. For example, if your municipality is using internal resources to plan and execute an occasion, then you are responsible. If you choose to insure the affair under your existing liability policy, you should consider the effect that a claim could have on your overall insurance program and deductible. Your insurance broker can help to ensure that you have the appropriate coverage for all of your special events.

Fireworks and parades are popular attractions, especially during the summer months. When hosting a firework display, it is important to take precautions to reduce the risks and keep your employees and spectators injury-free. People often underestimate the dangers posed by fireworks which can lead to preventable injuries and accidents. According to a study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than half of most fireworks-related injuries are the result of unexpected ignition or consumers not using fireworks as intended. Since fireworks carry potential risks of burns, blindness and other injuries, it is imperative that your municipality take proper safety precautions. It is also suggested that your municipality comply with all applicable federal, provincial and local laws as they regulate who can purchase and use fireworks, when they may be used and the maximum level of noise they can create.

If you are planning a firework show, we recommend that you review the following risk management guidelines:

  • Inform local fire and police authorities of the upcoming event 
  • Arrange for proper delivery, storage and use of the fireworks. The people responsible for the fireworks have a Fireworks Operator Certificate
  • Count the number of fireworks before and after the show to ensure that there are no stray fireworks in the area
  • Post signs warning of the potential hazards and ensure that the crowd is away from the firework display • Have fire extinguishers, buckets of sand or water ready, should something catch on fire
  • Have a weather plan in place should the show be cancelled or altered due to high winds or a summer storm

In addition to firework guidelines, we also recommend that you review your risk management policies and procedures for crowds at parades. Though crowd and spectator management can be stressful and time-consuming it is extremely important to consider, as a docile crowd can quickly turn violent, due a single incident. To mitigate risks at parades, your municipality should be prepared to handle a volatile crowd. Since the legal obligation to insure the parade falls on the event organizer, it is suggested that a crowd safety team is in place.

When your municipality is planning and executing upcoming parades the following are recommended:

  • Insure every automobile and all motorized equipment used in the parade (this includes tractors etc.)
  • Obtain signed waivers from all participants 
  • Hand out material directly to people watching along the parade route, do not throw material from the float or street level
  • Work closely with local police for the road closure and with local firefighters and EMS for safety precautions 
    • EMS should be a part of determining the best way in, out and around the parade in case someone is injured on the parade route
    • Inspect the staging area and the end of the parade route to ensure that participants and their vehicles or equipment can gather and disperse safely
  • Check that you adhere to all existing Special Event and Volunteer policies

Do not leave your insurance needs to the last minute and put yourself at risk of a preventable claim. Make sure that your insurance covers all of your event needs.

Click here to download a PDF version of our Special Event Risk Assessment Checklist to help assess the possible risks of your special event.

For further information on Special Events Insurance please contact Robin McCleave, VP, Risk Management, Public Sector at ClientFirst@jltcanada.com 

*For information on how to obtain a fireworks operator certificate please visit http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/explosives/fireworks/15696.